Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Round Up: July 24th - July 30th

Cups,Crossroads, and the Way of World Tea Expo
+Geoffrey Norman's final coverage of  World Tea Expo 2016 gave voice to something I think a lot of bloggers were feeling. What is our place in the industry? How do we become more like +Darlene Meyers Perry?

Puerh is Alive
+Cwyn N gave us an important reminder, puerh is alive. Tea is often thought of as a static thing but puerh is constantly changing. Storing it can become a hobby in and of itself. This isn't something that I've delved into much myself but it's fascinating stuff.

Tea Hostess Cupcakes
+Bonnie Eng is the hostest with the mostest, especially with the recipe she posted this week. Matcha cream filled cupcakes? Yes, please!

Raw Pu'erh Learning & Basics
+Tea DB has been doing a great series of videos where they answer viewers questions. In this episode they focus on raw puerh. The usual tea filled hilarity ensued.

Prana Chai
Marzipan at TeaLover.Net wrote about one of my biggest WTE regrets. How did I miss out on such a beautiful chai? The fact that the leaves are coated in Australian honey is really unique.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Art and Craft of Tea by Joseph Wesley Uhl + Giveaway

The Art and Craft of Tea by Joseph Wesley Uhl - Joe's wonderfully nerdy yet conversational approach combined with the crisp, modern layout makes for an engaging read.
One of the best things about being part of the tea world is seeing my favorite people do awesome things. When the man behind +Joseph Wesley Black Tea announced that he had written a book on tea I may have done a happy dance. Not only did I know that he really knows his stuff but he has an incredible sense of aesthetic (but I'm sure you already knew that).

For starters, the book is beautifully designed both inside and out. It's obvious that a lot of thought went into every last detail. Most books on the subject of tea are rather stuffy affairs, full of pomp and circumstance. The Art and Craft of Tea turns that tradition on its head. Joe's wonderfully nerdy yet conversational approach combined with the crisp, modern layout makes for an engaging read.

The basics of tea history and processing start the reader off with a tool box of understanding, even if they didn't know squat about tea before turning a page. Then things take a turn towards the awesomely nerdy. Terroir and chemistry are covered in-depth. The importance of water is also discussed from a variety of perspectives. The section on brewing tea is matter-of-fact and unpretentious. Can I get a yay for tea pets being mentioned? These are just a few of my favorite quotes:

"Throughout the book, I tried to remain aware that tea's power and magic is not found in its leaves, in the liquid it creates, or in our relationship to these things, but in its ability to help us feel connected to our shared humanity."

"Tea's history cannot be distilled simply into a series of dates and events."

"When visiting a tea shop or shopping in a grocery store, you will know that it is tea when the ingredient list includes only one word: tea. If there are other words listed under "ingredients", find something else to purchase."

"Part of the fun about tea is not the destination but the journey."

The requisite collection of recipes at the end rounds out the journey. There are definitely several tea-infused cocktails that are now on my to-do list.

So now for the fun part. I've got some stuff to give away!

One lucky grand prize winner will win a copy of this book. Six runners up will receive a box of Joseph Wesley Black Tea's Great Lakes Blend.

All you have to do is a leave a comment on this post letting me know why you love Joseph Wesley Black Tea. I can't wait to see what all of you come up with!

Winners will be announced on August 8th.

You can find out more about this book here.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Podcast Episode 21: World Tea Expo 2016

Just when you thought I was done with my World Tea Expo coverage, I decided to sneak in one more thing. For this month's podcast episode I put together a slideshow of pictures from my trip (accompanied by my dorky narrations). It was definitely a memorable trip and I was so glad that I got to share the experience with my fiance, Jason.

This is the first slideshow that I've made with Adobe Spark, thanks to inspiration from +Rachana Rachel Carter. The process was pretty painless. Their music selection was kind of limited but that wasn't really an option this time around anyway.

Is there something (or someone) that you'd like to see on the podcast? Let me know about it the comments!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Round Up: July 17th - July 23rd

My tasting notes: Gyokuro
I recently discovered a new blog called The Tea Squirrel, written by +Anna Mariani, and I've really enjoyed her posts so far. The photography in this post is so beautiful. It makes me want to run out and get some irises of my own.

Cha Do: The Way of Tea
Warren over at SimpleSubtleTea attended an event in California where he got to see Wu De of Global Tea Hut speak. Talk about jealous! Hopefully there will be a similar event on the east coast soon.

Tea Flavour Ice Lollies
It's been incredibly hot and humid here in NJ the last few weeks. Jaye at +Cardiff in a Tea Cup shared some recipes for tea ice pops that will definitely come in handy. Coconut milk and matcha sounds like a match made in heaven.

Spring Long Jing (Dragon Well) Green Tea
Microshrimp's Book of Tea put together an interesting comparison of Dragonwell teas from two different vendors. I really enjoyed the fair, balanced approach. It's easy to want to declare a winner but this post was a great reminder that every tea has its place.

DIY Green Tea After Sun Spray
This post is timely as I recently found myself with a bit of sunburn after a long day playing Pokemon Go. Yep, I said it! +Lu Ann Pannunzio hosted this fantastic guest post written by Jen Fitch of A Sip of Bliss.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Xin Mu Cha Vivid Retention 2015

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

Some of you might remember my review of Xi Mu Cha's Nonpareil Lalashan Oolong. Both teas are from the same region and were made with the same cultivar. I think I might have to declare Vivid Retention my favorite. First of all, isn't that a completely epic name for a tea? You won't just remember it, you'll retain the memory vividly!

The dry leaves had an intriguingly strong smell that I couldn't quite put my finger on. I immediately thought to myself, "This is going to be good!. Even before drinking my senses were flooded with heady floral notes. Green oolongs similar to this one are usually likened to orchid but I felt like lavender was a more apt description in this case. I used a tapered teacup (basically a giant aroma cup) and it did a fantastic job of trapping all of those aromas for my nose to linger upon. If you don't have a similarly shaped cup you'll definitely want to take advantage of sniffing your gaiwan lid to get the full effect.

That intense floral character carried through in the taste as well. Vegetal and creamy notes danced around a lingering sweetness. Visions of lavender and honeysuckle danced in my head. There was no bitterness or astringency, even with stretched out steep times. This is an oolong that should definitely be gongfu'd in order to extract every bit of deliciousness. Although it would definitely hold up to western or grandpa style brews, I think you would loose some of that incredible intensity. As they unfurled the leaves were large and leathery with lots of visible bud sets. I could even spot oxidation spots and naturally serrated edges.

Have you ever tried a tea from Xin Mu Cha or Lala Shan? Let me know about it in the comments!

Vivid Retention 2015 sample provided for review by Xin Mu Cha.

A photo posted by Nicole Martin (@teaformeplease) on

Monday, July 18, 2016

Tea Places: Nohohon Tea Room

Nohohon Tea Room
When I heard that Toronto based Nohohon Tea Room had opened a location in NYC I just had to check it out. Oddly enough, I found out about them through a YouTube video from +Off the Great Wall that popped up on my feed. It took me a few weeks to get over to that part of town but it was definitely worth the extra trip. Unlike a lot of the chain stores that are common around the city each cup of matcha bubble tea is whisked by hand. My fellow matcha heads will all agree, there's nothing like having someone whip up a bowl of matcha for you.

 St. Mark's Place is always a busy place and I had trouble spotting them at first. Eventually I realized that they were right next door to Sing Sing, an iconic dive of a karaoke bar. It's just a short walk from Astor Place and several subway stations so the location is pretty easy to get to. I definitely forsee dragging my my non-tea friends here when we are nearby

The space was tiny but felt cozy and inviting. Although there's a small bench I'd consider them to be more of a "to go" place. One of the first things that I caught my eye right away was the kama and bamboo ladle that were set up on their tea prep counter. How cool is that? The girl who was working was friendly and ready to answer any questions that I might have had.

I am not a fan of boba so I was a bit unsure about ordering at first. To my relief each drink is handmade and a wide range of customizations are available. Tapioca and red bean topping is available as well as both soy and almond milk. It was a relatively warm day so I opted for a "Matcha on the Rock". A shot of matcha on ice topped with organic coconut water sounded like just the thing. I'm happy to report that it was delicious and refreshing. My subway ride home was much better for having it.

I must confess that part of my motivation for stopping by was to see if it was possible to grab an adorable Tenugui tea towel that I had seen on their Instagram. Cats making matcha trumps all! I really have no idea what I'm going to use it for but I couldn't resist. Apparently the designs change monthly so I felt lucky for there to still be some available. There was also a shelf of teaware, including several beautiful chawans, but I decided to not even inquire about the prices for the sake of my tea budget.

Tea Towel - Cats Making Matcha

You can find out more about Nohohon Tea Room here.

Nohohon Tea Room is located at:

9 St. Marks Place
New York, NY 10003
(212) 387 0276
Sun-Wed: 1pm - 9pm
Thu -Sat: 1pm- 10pm

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday Round Up: July 10th - July 16th

Totem Tea: Gui Fei Oolong, A Tea Review
+Alexsia Wilson wrote a great review of a tea that is coming up on my "to be reviewed" list. I love a good bug bittern tea and Gui Fei is one of my favorites.

2008  Bana Tea Company Limited Edition Sheng - Tea Review
+Charissa Gascho reviewed an easy going sheng from Bana Tea. This is definitely a company that I've been meaning to order from for a while.

Tasting Tea with Tony Tellin of Smith Teamaker
I saw the tweet about this special event a day too late but I'm so glad that +sara shacket was able to attend. She got some really fantasic shots and the teas she tasted sound wonderful.

Flip Flops and a Rock:the Truth is Still Relative
+Cwyn N gave some really insightful commentary on transparancy and some of the hot button issues being in the puerh world. Her parting line says it all, "The best way to find good tea and navigate sellers is by word of mouth. Hone your social media if you are buying and selling, because this is where the real action is.".

Tea Authenticity and Geographical Indications
Geographical indications are becoming increasingly important in the tea world but they can be confusing at the same time. +Tony Gebely does a great job of breaking down some of the common G.I. logos that you might find on tea packaging.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Jade Leaf Red Jade #18 Black Tea Summer 2015

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: long, dark and spindly
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 degrees
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep reddish brown

Taiwanese black teas are among some of my favorites and Ruby 18 in particular in one of my favorite varieties. It's hard to put my finger on it but they always seem to hit the spot. They're smooth yet complex and the leaves stand up well to just about any brewing method. Whether you want to gongfu, go grandpa style, or cold brew some iced tea it's guaranteed to be delicious.

This one from The Jade Leaf was robust but offered surprisingly fruity notes. Imagine plump raisins or really dark cherries. Of course, the flavor notes that we talk about in tea are always subtle but those are what immediately came to mind while I sipped. There was a really nice lingering sweetness that I enjoyed long after my gongfu session had ended. Being a black tea there are some tannins but it never really bordered on astringent or bitter. Just 5g of leaves lasted well over eight consecutive infusions so make sure that you've got plenty of time to steep this one out.

Later infusions brought the slight hint of spice that I look for with this type of tea. It's not quite as obvious as you might find with something like a Rou Gui but it's there in the background if you look for it. When I used slightly cooler water some interesting menthol or eucalyptus hints popped up in the finish. This is a tea that would be great for introducing friends to the wonderful world of loose leaf. The flavor is so surprising for the uninitiated that I think they'll be instantly hooked. Ruby 18's do tend to have a fair amount of caffeine so my one warning would be to not drink them on an empty stomach.

Did you miss my podcast interview with Emilio of The Jade Leaf? Check it out here! 

Red Jade #18 Black Tea Summer 2015 sample provided by The Jade Leaf.

The Jade Leaf Red Jade #18 Black Tea Summer 2015

fruity and smooth, lingering sweetness. raisiny. cinnamon popped up in palate afterwards

Monday, July 11, 2016

Chinese vs Japanese Green Teas

Part of the fun of discovering tea is getting to know the different types that each country produces. There are so many nuances and grey areas that the possibilities for nerding out are endless. I thought it might be helpful to put together a comparison of the green teas from two of the largest producers of this type of tea.


No one really knows for sure when people began preparing tea as a beverage but most experts agree that the Camellia Sinensis plant originated in China. Lu Yu's The Classic of Tea, supposedly written during the Tang Dynasty, was the first documented book on the subject of tea. Tea was introduced to Japan in the 9th century by Buddhist monks who carried seeds with them from their travels to China. Eisai usually gets the credit for establishing tea in Japan because he wrote the first Japanese book on tea, Kissa Yōjōki.


The environment in which tea is grown has a large effect on the way that the finished product will taste. China and Japan are geographically close so they share a lot of similarities. Both countries are mountainous with widely ranging microclimates. Most of China's tea-growing regions are located in southern provinces, away from the coast. Japan, on the other hand, is comprised of more than 6,000 islands. The proximity to the ocean is definitely a factor in the way that the brewed tea tastes.


Both the Chinese and Japanese governments operate research stations where varieties of tea are studied, developed and cultivated. They might be selected for taste, pest resistance or because the leaves have a particular coloration. In China, the varieties are frequently named after the tea that is produced with them (Tie Guan Yin or Long Jing No. 43 for example). In contrast, Japanese tea production is dominated by the Yabukita cultivar. I highly recommend checking out +Ricardo Caicedo's blog for a thorough list of registered Japanese varieties.

Mao Feng before steeping

Mao Feng after steeping


The biggest difference between Chinese and Japanese green teas is how they are processed. When manufacturing tea heat must be applied to the leaves in order to stop oxidation. This is referred to as fixing or the kill-green step. A large wok is typically used to do this in China, effectively stir-frying the leaves. Ovens are also used to achieve the same effect in some places. In Japan oxidation is stopped by steaming the leaves. The level of steaming, ranging from about 20 seconds to 160 seconds, is one of the factors that determines the category that a tea is placed in.

The way that tea is harvested also has a big effect on the what the tea that ends up in our teacups looks like. China has a long-standing tradition of hand picking tea leaves whereas Japanese tea is most frequently harvested by machine. The result is mostly intact leaves in China and a more broken leaf in Japan. While there are exceptions to this rule, I don't come across them often. Regardless of whatever cultural bias you might run into, one method is not any better than the other. They are simply different, each reflecting the region that produced them.

Sencha before steeping

Sencha after steeping


Chinese green teas typically have a nutty or more roasted character. The chestnut notes in Dragonwell are a great example. This is mostly caused by the pan frying during the kill-green step in processing. Japanese green teas have a much more vegetal, almost seaweed-like, quality. Kabuse (shade-grown) teas like gyokuro highlight this particularly well. The leaves are usually so tender after brewing that you can eat them quite easily.

Which type of green tea do you prefer? Let me know about it in the comments!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Friday Round Up: July 3rd - July 9th

The Sunrouge Tea Cultivar
Purple tea seems to be all the rage these days. Did you know that Japan has their own colorful variety? +Ricardo Caicedo shared a post full of info about it this week.

White Pearls from Adagio Tea - Tea Review
Just when I thought I had tried everything cool that +Adagio Teas has to offer, +Charissa Gascho discovered these gems. I love big pearled teas so these will definitely be on my wish list.

Keemun Imperial Black Tea from Teavivre
I love seeing new posts pop up on blogs that might have gone a bit quiet. +Danielle Pigeon came back from a hiatus to share some delicious Keemun. Her beautiful photography is always a welcome sight.

Micro-Blogging with Tea Photography
+Rachana Rachel Carter had the brilliant idea of sharing her week in tea through photographs. I'm a big fan of her Instagram and this post pulls together all of those beautiful shots along with brief insights into the occasions behind each of them.

Ceylon Tea Festival at the Embassy of Sri Lanka
+Georgia SS experienced "pure enchantment in a cup" at a special event in Washington, D.C. What a treat! Several of the teas that she tried are from Amba Estate, one of my favorite tea producers in Sri Lanka.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Eco-Cha Dong Ding Oolong Tea

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: gold

Dong Ding was the Taiwanese tea poster child when I first got into serious tea drinking. It seems like it's often forgotten about these days as Alishan and Da Yu Ling seem to be more popular. I have a soft spot for Dong Ding though because it was one of the first oolongs that I really fell in love with. This one was the first tea I grabbed from a batch of samples from +Eco-Cha Artisan Teas in my "to be reviewed" drawer. The batch I tried was 2015 but I'm sure that the 2016 harvest will be just as delicious.

I immediately stuck my nose into the bag and inhaled the roasted aroma of the dry leaves. When prepared in a gaiwan with shorter gongfu infusions the taste wasn't quite so intense but it was delicious nonetheless. Nutty and mildly fruit notes with a slight tang in the midpalate gave way to subtle floral hints in the finish. There was no astringency at all, even when the steep time was extended. Whenever possible I like to play around with brewing a tea in a few different ways before writing a review. It really helps me to get to know a tea and figure out where its limits are. Gongfu'ing this tea yielded more than six infusions and the leaves held up to at least three western style infusions.

This is what I like to call a Goldilocks tea. What I mean by that it's just right. It wasn't nuclear green but it also wasn't roasted to death. If you prefer a fuller bodied cup, I'd recommend using their western style brewing directions (7g in 300ml). The roast was noticeably more pronounced when I drank the tea that way. For those that prefer "grandpa style" drinking, this tea would definitely be a good candidate as long as you don't overdo it on leaf volume.

Dong Ding Oolong Tea sample provided by Eco-Cha.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Guest Post: Bohea Over Ice by Kyle Brown of Oliver Pluff & Co

I first met Kyle Brown at a Fancy Food Show in New York City a few years ago. He impressed me with his knowledge of colonial history and I thought his historical tea line was a unique concept. What better day is there to share a bit of that with you all than the Fourth of July? If you have any questions about bohea or colonial tea history, please feel free to ask them in the comments!

I started a tea business in 2009 with a business plan of becoming the “Ben and Jerry’s of iced tea”. After sampling over 300 broken orange pekoes from India and Sri Lanka, we selected single estate teas from a couple of gardens: an organic black tea from south India with crisp, floral tones, and a bold, fruity black tea from Sri Lanka.  We found a small but loyal market for our specialty iced teas.  But the sales were not enough.  Then we met Colonial Williamsburg, who called on us for help creating their Early American tea line.  We studied tea history for 6 weeks and then we sourced the tea products from the same gardens that supplied the British East India Company. Our business adapted quickly to meet the historic market for Early American tea.  The iced tea business plan had been left behind.

Our Colonial Bohea black tea blend attracted the most attention (pronounced “Boo-Hee” Ukers 510). This tea was by far the largest tea import during colonial times, at least 80% of the total tea import.  It was so popular in colonial times that the word bohea became the slang term for tea.  In the Boston Tea Party, 1,586 chests of bohea were destroyed.  The word bohea seems to have evolved from a corruption of the Chinese word for the Wuyi Mountains.  Originally from this Wuyi region, bohea evolved from being sourced from a particular region to become a black tea blend from several regions. The blend varied wildly, consisting of broken orange pekoe, pekoe, and souchong dumped in a pile and then sifted, typically the scrap tea of lower quality (larger) leaves, but was considered high quality by the colonists.

Bohea is our most controversial product but it's easily our best-seller online.  A hot cup of bohea can cleave a slow afternoon right in half.  Some immediately dislike the smoky aroma and flavor but others love it. I found an online review of our bohea which read "Now I know why we fought the revolution".  Others offer tips to squeeze in a lemon or add some cream and sugar.

I also sip bohea as an iced tea; the smoky tones are complemented with a bit of cane sugar. It’s intriguing as an iced tea. Now, with our iced bohea, we are finding a new market for specialty iced teas.  Bartenders and mixologists are using bohea as the base ingredient in their smoky iced tea cocktails.  It’s a fusion of Southern and colonial American tea cultures, and it feels so satisfying to be back into the iced tea business.

by Kyle Brown, Founder, Oliver Pluff & Co.

You can find out more about Colonial Bohea here.

Oliver Pluff & Company creates early American tea, coffee, and spice blends for historical and gourmet markets. We believe that people with a passion for history are enriching their lives - that the exploration of history gives us a sense of belonging

Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday Round Up - World Tea Expo Edition Part 2

The Tea and Hat Lady
State of the Industry - Day 2 WTE

Tea Happiness
Reflections on The World Tea Expo: Day 1/2
World Tea Expo, Day 1- Re-Evaluating Tea Education

My Japanese Green Tea
World Tea Expo 2016 Part 3
World Tea Expo 2016 Part 4
World Tea Expo 2016 Part 5

Steep Stories
A Fly on Tea Journey's Wall
The Return of the Fellowship to World Tea Expo

Lasting Impressions from the 2016 World Tea Expo